Sunday, 4 December 2016

Shadowcaster by Cinda Williams Chima

Summary: Alyssa ana'Raisa is the reluctant princess heir to the Gray Wolf throne of Fells, a queendom embroiled in a seemingly endless war. Hardened by too many losses, Lyss is more comfortable striking with a sword than maneuvering at court. After a brush with death, she goes on the offensive, meaning to end the war that has raged her whole life. If her gamble doesn't pay off, she could lose her queendom before she even ascends to the throne.

Across enemy lines in Arden, young rising star Captain Halston Matelon has been fighting for his king since he was a lýtling. Lately, though, he finds himself sent on ever more dangerous assignments. Between the terrifying rumors of witches and wolfish warriors to the north and his cruel king at home, Hal is caught in an impossible game of life and death.

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Publication date: 04/04/17

Shadowcaster's two main characters are Alyssa ana'Raisa (Ash's sister) and Captain Halston Matelon. It takes place parallel to the events of Flamecaster, so it's a 'meanwhile on the war and politics front' type of situation.

Having more of a focus on war and politics makes it different from the previous book. Princess Lyssa aka the Gray Wolf and Hal are on opposites sides of the war, but both are loyal and determined fighters. As their paths cross they learn that they may not be so different after all...

I have to admit that when I first head that the book wouldn't be told from Ash and Jenna's POV I was a little disappointed, because I really came to love them in Flamecaster. However, Lyss and Hal were both excellently developed characters, and Chima once again managed to make me root and care for her leading pair. Lyss was fierce and although she sometimes said things without thinking, I liked her steel determination to end the war. Hal, too, was a character to be reckoned with.

POV change aside, going into the book I was a tad bit confused with all the new terms thrown at me. The previous book, Flamecaster, I finished without having read the Seven Realms series, and that was absolutely fine. However, with this one I felt like I might have benefited from having reading the other series. I was also worried that I wouldn't be able to finish it at first, because of the confusing terms and the change of style from the previous book. Luckily, though, things picked up and my confusion faded away. From then on I was flying through Shadowcaster, wanting to know what would happen next.

Jenna and her dragon also had a few chapter of their own which was exciting. I of course missed Ash, but hopefully Jenna and Ash will be back in the next book full time!

Rating:

Monday, 31 October 2016

Blood by Blood by Ryan Graudin

GoodReads: For the resistance in 1950s Germany, the war may be over, but the fight has just begun.

Death camp survivor Yael, who has the power to skinshift, is on the run: the world has just seen her shoot and kill Hitler. But the truth of what happened is far more complicated, and its consequences are deadly. Yael and her unlikely comrades dive into enemy territory to try to turn the tide against the New Order, and there is no alternative but to see their mission through to the end, whatever the cost.

But dark secrets reveal dark truths, and one question hangs over them all: how far can you go for the ones you love?

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Source: Visit SocialBookCo to compare and find the lowest price for this book.

I really enjoyed reading Wolf by Wolf last year, and have been looking forward to Blood for Blood even though I had a feeling there was heartbreak to come.

Blood for Blood is told from Yael, Felix, and Luka’s POV – mostly in the present, with flashback to their pasts here and there. This enables you to get to know the characters better, especially Felix and Luka whose perspectives were not included in the previous book.

Yael is such an amazing heroine. She has a horrible past, but instead of breaking her it’s made her stronger and more determined. She has a lot on her shoulders and constantly has to make morally hard choices. 

Felix, one of my favourite characters from the last book is also forced to make some tough decisions. My heart broke seeing him struggle and question himself. I would not want to be put in his position. Even though his choice frustrated me at times, I can understand why he took the path he did.

I have to admit I wasn't really a fan of Luka in the first book. I felt like he was portrayed as a typical 'bad boy'. I have to say, however, that I came to appreciate him more in Blood for Blood. I think the fact that we get to read from his POV helped me sympathise for him.

I kind of expected the ending and honestly think it couldn’t have ended any other way. It was brilliantly executed and definitely packed a punch.

Blood for Blood has it all: action, heartbreak, and betrayal!

Rating:

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Dark Water by Robert Bryndza

Beneath the water the body sank rapidly. She would lie still and undisturbed for many years but above her on dry land, the nightmare was just beginning. 

When Detective Erika Foster receives a tip-off that key evidence for a major narcotics case was stashed in a disused quarry on the outskirts of London, she orders for it to be searched. From the thick sludge the drugs are recovered, but so is the skeleton of a young child.  

The remains are quickly identified as seven-year-old Jessica Collins. The missing girl who made headline news twenty-six years ago. 

As Erika tries to piece together new evidence with the old, she must dig deeper and find out more about the fractured Collins family and the original detective, Amanda Baker. A woman plagued by her failure to find Jessica. Erika soon realises this is going to be one of the most complex and demanding cases she has ever taken on. 

Is the suspect someone close to home? Someone is keeping secrets. Someone who doesn’t want this case solved. And they’ll do anything to stop Erika from finding the truth.   

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I first stumbled upon the DCI Erika Foster series when I was on Amazon searching for a good crime/mystery book. The reviews seemed positive, but I still wasn't too sure about it. Then, not too long after I saw a review for it up on Czai's blog, and she basically had me sold. I really enjoyed the first book in the series, The Girl in the Ice and quickly moved onto the next, The Night Stalker. It's no surprise then that I have been eagerly anticipating the release of the third book, Dark Water. I honestly think I love this series nearly as much as I love J.K. Rowling's Cormoran Strike series. It's that good!

Usually when I read a crime/mystery book and it's the first in a series I'm satisfied reading just the one book, because most of the time they can be read as a standalone, which is great. I'm also usually in it for the mystery, so character likability, etc doesn't much matter to me. However, like the Cormoran Strike series it's both the mystery and characters that has me devouring these books.

The thing I love about this series is that it keeps you guessing. It's a really well done whodunnit, that isn't at all predictable. Dark Water features another great mystery, and although I wouldn't say it's my favourite mystery so far it still played out brilliantly. On the character side of things I liked the growth Erika goes through, it was great seeing her develop. She is a no nonesense kind of main character, whose tell it like it is attitude I adore. I've been shipping her and a certain someone since the last book, and all I'm going to say is that my shippy feelings were working overtime when reading Dark Water. ;)

One last thing I want to mention before I wrap this review up is diversity. It's something I find lacking in the Cormoran Strike series, which sucks because London is a really diverse place. So, it's been great seeing so much of it in this series. What I like about how it's been handled here is that it's not just been thrown in there for show, it comes across as genuine.

Overall, I flew through Dark Water and am really looking forward to book 4!

Rating:

Friday, 23 September 2016

Recent reads (#3)

Hi, guys! Today I thought I'd share a little reading update. I haven't read/listened to that many books over the last couple of months, and I think it's due to the fact that my taste in books is changing. YA high fantasy remains my one true love and I still like historical YA, but genres that once appealed to me in YA no longer do. I'm also dipping more into adult fiction as you can see from my recent reads down below. (Click on the titles for GoodReads links.)

Have you read any of these? What did you think of them?

- Renu

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

The Boy is Back by Meg Cabot

Summary: Sometimes to move forward, you have to go back…

One post. That’s all it took to destroy the care free, glamorous life of pro golfer Reed Stewart. One tiny post on the Internet.  

Then again, it’s not like Reed’s been winning many tournaments lately, and his uncle isn’t the only one who says it’s because of the unfinished business he left behind back home in Bloomville, Indiana—namely Reed’s father, the Honorable Judge Richard P. Stewart, and the only girl Reed ever loved, Becky Flowers. 

But Reed hasn’t spoken to either his father or Becky in over a decade. 

Until that post on the Internet. Suddenly, Reed’s family has become a national laughingstock, his publicist won’t stop calling, his siblings are begging for help, and Reed realizes he has no other choice: He’s got to go home to face his past . . . the Judge and the girl he left behind.

Becky’s worked hard to build her successful senior relocation business, but she’s worked even harder to forget Reed Stewart ever existed—which hasn’t been easy, considering he’s their hometown’s golden boy, and all anyone ever talks about. It was fine while they were thousands of miles apart, but now he’s back in Bloomville. She has absolutely no intention of seeing him—until his family hires her to help save his parents.

Now Reed and Becky can’t avoid one another…or the memories of that one fateful night.   

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Publication date: 18/10/16

Top five reasons why you should read The Boy is Back:
1. If you're new to the Boy series no worries, because each book can be read as a stand-alone.

2. Unique format: The Boy is Back is told through text messages, journal entries, FB messages,  Amazon reviews, newspaper articles, and emails. This not only provides for a fun reading experience, but also makes it quick to get through.

3. Funny characters: You'll laugh at the antics the colourful cast of characters get up to.

4. Cute romance: There's this part where Reed and Becky quote Jane Austen's Persuasion (one of my favourite classics) and I'm not going to lie, I was swooning.

5. It's a light and fun read: I don't usually read contemporary books, but I think it's good to take a break every now and then from your usual genres.

Rating:

Friday, 19 August 2016

Yesternight by Cat Winters

Summary: In 1925, Alice Lind steps off a train in the rain-soaked coastal hamlet of Gordon Bay, Oregon. There, she expects to do nothing more difficult than administer IQ tests to a group of rural schoolchildren. A trained psychologist, Alice believes mysteries of the mind can be unlocked scientifically, but now her views are about to be challenged by one curious child.

Seven-year-old Janie O’Daire is a mathematical genius, which is surprising. But what is disturbing are the stories she tells: that her name was once Violet, she grew up in Kansas decades earlier, and she drowned at age nineteen. Alice delves into these stories, at first believing they’re no more than the product of the girl’s vast imagination. But, slowly, Alice comes to the realization that Janie might indeed be telling a strange truth.

Alice knows the investigation may endanger her already shaky professional reputation, and as a woman in a field dominated by men she has no room for mistakes. But she is unprepared for the ways it will illuminate terrifying mysteries within her own past, and in the process, irrevocably change her life.

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Publication date: 04/10/16 

Yesternight is the fourth book I've read by Cat Winters, and I have to say that it's quite a bit different from her previous titles. The story follows Alice Lind, a trained psychologist, as she arrives at Golden Bay to administer IQ tests to the local school children. Alice believes there's a psychological explanation for most things, but when she meets Janie, a little girl who claims she once lived as Violet Day -a girl who drowned at the age of 19- her world is turned upside down...

Alice is in some way like Winters' other female leads: ahead of her time, intelligent, head strong. She is a woman in a career dominated by men. She desperately wishes to go uni, but has been rejected because of her gender so instead is forced to go from school to school administrating IQ tests. In other ways she is not like Winters' other female leads, but I can't go into detail as to why because spoilers.

Another similarity between this book and her others: it's really atmospheric. Winters does a fantastic job of bringing the story to life with her vivid descriptions. There's a creepy undercurrent throughout the book and as the investigation into Janie's 'past lfe' as Violet Day unfurls Alice even begins to question her own troubled past. Eventually as things started to come to light I still wasn't sure where the story was going, and I kind of liked that, it was refreshing. 

The ending was unexpected and left me chilled. If I’m honest it took me a little while to process how I felt about Yesternight when I finished it. It's a strange book, but in the end I decided I liked it. Although not my favourite book by Winters I still found it to be thoroughly engaging.

Rating: 
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